Charlize Theron & Tom Hardy detail high tension on Mad Max: Fury Road set

Last Updated on August 5, 2021

Despite how successful MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was both critically and financially, it's no secret that the film had a notoriously tough shoot. It was also no secret that stars Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy didn't exactly get along well filming the George Miller film either. Some of the grit and visceral impact of the film probably has a lot to do with how reality boiled over into fiction so, in the end, a great piece of art was made for fans who watched Miller bring MAD MAX to a new generation. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD doesn't look like a film that would be considered for awards attention but the movie scored ten Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. The film ultimately took home six Academy Awards, all in the technical categories, and it actually won the most awards at the 2016 ceremony. All the hard work and tough days on set paid off but in a new oral history of the making of MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, the film's two stars are actually detailing what drove them apart on the tumultuous shoot.

During the piece for "The New York Times", Miller and his cast got candid about how rough the film was to make. Shooting in the secluded Namibian desert for months on end didn't help matters but a lot of the tension came about because they also didn’t quite understand Miller’s vision for the film. The finished product comes together nicely but a lot of the film's narrative flourishes weren't clear during shooting and, according to Theron, a lot of what they needed to know was in Miller's head and it wasn't always communicated properly:

"The biggest thing that was driving that entire production was fear. I was incredibly scared, because I’d never done anything like it. I think the hardest thing between me and George is that he had the movie in his head and I was so desperate to understand it."

Action can be some of the most monotonous things to shoot because a lot of it is shot in pieces. You have to shoot three seconds of footage here, 10 seconds of footage there, and at the end, you piece it all together and it looks thrilling on the big screen. In the case of MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, that's essentially the whole movie so shooting the film didn't feel entirely natural for Theron and she explains that trusting Miller fully was tough due to past experiences:

"All of those young girls kind of turned to me as someone who would problem-solve for them, and this is not anybody’s fault — I only say this now because I know George and I’ve experienced this with George, so I’d fully trust him. But I’ve also trusted directors fully when I didn’t comprehend what they were trying to do, and it just turned into a mess."

Tom Hardy goes on to echo much of what Theron is saying, especially about trusting the process because a lot of it was very difficult to shoot. Most of it came down to faith that what they were shooting, would actually make sense:

"Because of how much detail we were having to process and how little control one had in each new situation, and how fast the takes were — tiny snippets of story moments were needed to make the final cut work — we moved fast, and it was at times overwhelming. One had to trust that the bigger picture was being held together."

Since Theron and Hardy were frustrated about not fully understanding the film that was being made, a lot of that anger was taken out on the person who was supposed to be guiding them. Miller explains that he “probably should have paid more attention to the actors’ working process" but he was focused more on the technical aspects of the film. Actress Zoe Kravitz, who played Toast the Knowing, reveals that Hardy was especially hard on Miller:

"Tom really had moments of frustration, of anger. Charlize did, too, but I feel like he’s the one who really took it out on George the most, and that was a bummer to see. But you know, in some ways, you also can’t blame him, because a lot was being asked of these actors and there were a lot of unanswered questions."

Theron goes on to say that both she and Hardy were both experiencing fears while making the film but they never really fully communicated those fears with each other and this led to tension between the two performers on set:

"In retrospect, I didn’t have enough empathy to really, truly understand what [Hardy] must have felt like to step into Mel Gibson’s shoes. That is frightening! And I think because of my own fear, we were putting up walls to protect ourselves instead of saying to each other, ‘This is scary for you, and it’s scary for me, too. Let’s be nice to each other.’ In a weird way, we were functioning like our characters: Everything was about survival."

Hardy agrees with Theron on this assessment and also states that she probably could've used a better partner to go on this crazy filmmaking journey with:

"I would agree. I think in hindsight, I was in over my head in many ways. The pressure on both of us was overwhelming at times. What she needed was a better, perhaps more experienced, partner in me. That’s something that can’t be faked. I’d like to think that now that I’m older and uglier, I could rise to that occasion."

Talk about going through the trenches together. It's interesting that behind the scenes there was so much chaos and frustration but the finished product turned out to be what many consider a new masterpiece in terms of action. Judging from the interview, Theron and Hardy have nothing but respect for each other now and they both display huge respect for George Miller because, at the end of the day, his process crafted a film they're both proud of. Zoe Kravitz describes the whole process as one of the most challenging experiences of her life but she says she would go back and do it again in a heartbeat:

"As an actor, you make a lot of movies — some of them are good and some of them are bad, and you have to kind of let that go. But with this one, it really felt like we put our actual blood, sweat, tears and time into it, and if it hadn’t been good, I would have been devastated. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life, but it was absolutely worth it, and I would do it again if George asked me to."

Whatever your thoughts are on the film, you can really feel how tough it might've been making it when you're watching it. Every frame feels exhausting but it is all a part of the experience created by Miller. I liked MAD MAX: FURY ROAD but I don't think I fully appreciated the detail that went into making it and now I want to give the film a fresh watch because knowing all these tidbits might make me view the film in a completely different way.

Are YOU a fan of MAD MAX: FURY ROAD? 

Source: The New York Times

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